Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Musings, 26 November 2011

Good morning,

Muscles ache which I have not used for months. I suppose they are the famous "Mommy muscles" -- the ones that allow us to bend low, so as to lift a small child or a twenty-pound turkey; to push a damp mop across a kitchen floor; and to peel potatoes. But I awakened this morning to a house that sparkled, dishes snuggling in their cupboards, and a lingering aroma of fresh sage. I planned my life well: long-time guests who do not leave until the dishes are washed, dried and put away.

I enjoyed two Thanksgiving dinners this week, as I often do. On Thursday, we gathered at my parents-in-law's home. Last evening, our oldest and dearest friends (among many friends whom we hold dear) graced our table. And now I roll my shoulders to clear the happy stiffness resulting from eight hours of cooking. I smile over the pictures of young men teaching a bright five-year-old to play chess, and recall other chess games played in my house, a decade ago, when these same young men were serious ten and eleven year-olds. The world turns, and we move another click towards our collective and respective destinies.

I went to a new physician this week, an arrogant young woman who dismissively scribbled on my carefully penned medical history. For all of her supposed knowledge, she still got my symptoms wrong, as I learned when a testing lab phoned me to schedule their contribution to the puzzle. I put down the turkey baster to spare the woman a few moments, although she offered to postpone the scheduling interview until Monday. As we talked, I thought about the biting cold of the day on which I visited the doctor's office earlier this week.

When I left the medical building, I rued again my decision to dash over to the appointment without my coat. I stood on the curb, preparing to cross two lanes of parking lot traffic to reach the handicapped spaces. I stepped into the mark crosswalk, looking down at a long crack in the pavement. My eyes flickered forward as I gauged the potential for safe navigation to the center aisle, and I caught sight of a slim foot in a gold sandal extended towards me.

I noticed the thick support hose in which the foot was encased, and slowly raised my eyes. The woman wore a long, shimmering silver skirt that fell straight and stopped mid-calf. Her arms were bent towards her waist, her hands encased in white gloves such as I had not seen since my Catholic school days. The simple woolen jacket closed with a single large button. My gaze reached her face and met her eyes, for just one brief second, not long enough for me to register emotion. Her raised chin inched slightly upward. Her face was framed by thinning silver hair, swept up and held back no doubt with small metal hair pins.

She turned away from my scrutiny, unconsciously displaying the little tube running from behind one ear.

A man had one hand on the woman's elbow. As I passed the pair, I came close enough to recognize the smell of Old Spice clinging to his jacket. I reached the other side and turned back to watch him gently guide her to safety on the far curb. His suit fell away from his frame, its fabric countered before time robbed him of his sturdier presence. But his arm circled her as reliably as it surely had for decades, and in the brief second before the doors closed soundlessly behind them, he glanced back in my direction with a warning menace.

I closed my eyes and let the lingering fragrance settle in my lungs, a mixture of his after-shave and Chantilly Lace perfume. This is the smell of time, I thought. The scent of something that endures. I felt my body sway, and heard the voice of someone on the sidewalk talking into an invisible mobile device. I shook myself from my reverie, and continued into the parking lot, fumbling for my keys, pulling the stamped ticket from the pocket of my jeans. I took my place in the exit line and handed the ticket to the same woman who takes my ticket every time I visit one of my doctors. I listened to her cheerful greeting, and returned it, raising my window again before pulling out into the lane of traffic and resuming my mindless journey into evening.

A quiet rustle from the living room pulls me back into the pleasant air of a rainy Saturday. I spy the dog sleeping outside my son's closed bedroom door, and I catch a slight hint in the air of burned coffee. In a little while, I will rouse my son and we will venture into the city. He has not gotten a chance to do any of the clothes shopping that we planned for this holiday because his poli-sci professor handed out an assignment just before the students left campus for Thanksgiving Break. My son spent most of the last three days driving home or writing a paper on special interest groups. Today we will sip coffee at Dunn Brothers, and brave the aisles of Nordstrom Racks. Tomorrow the clock will resume its march toward the end of 2011 as he drives back to a place where he is not my just my son, but a person in his own right -- a world that exists on a three-hundred acre plot on which he has also staked his future.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.